A fellow believer asked for clarification within these posts, and the following red text has been added to this and following posts to hopefully give clarification.
Let’s continue considering Cody’s effort to convince me of the necessity of local church membership, with the assistance of Mark Dever from 9 Mark’s ministries.
Cody’s document supplied several verses included below, claiming they taught Local Church Membership in 6 categories.
In this post, I examine the claim that Local Church Membership, as understood in our modern world is required in order To Glorify God.
6) To Glorify God
Matthew 5:13-1613 “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house.16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
Unless the light shining can be clearly defined as members of a local church, and the members are the only ones who can shine, I am not seeing the justification of this set of verses to defend the local church membership doctrine.
Believers are to let their light shine. Believers in a church, believers who are members of a church, believers who are persecuted, believers that have no fellowship, believers who are all alone. All believers are to let thier light so shine. But show me where the verse teaches that in order for a believer to shine, they must become a member of a local church.
1 Peter 2:12
12 Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.
Again, this verse does not defend local church membership, but simply an injunction for all believers to act honorably among those who do not believe (Gentiles).
14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.
Where is the local church membership requirement here?
Might I suggest the following verse to justify local church membership?
1 There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job, and that man was blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil.
Job must have been a member of a local church, since he was blameless and upright – It’s right there in the verse – Can’t you see it?
In future posts, I will continue to address this topic, but from a different perspective. Having considered the defense Mr. Dever’s provided for local church membership, I will now provide additional deliberations from the New Testament that may shed additional light on the topic.
I do hope you will join me in my discussion with Cody, and supply comment or correction from the Word for our mutual edification.
If you read something in this discussion that concerns you, please take the time to send me your comments or reply within the post. I look forward to hearing from you.
15 thoughts on “Local Church Membership Q&A – 7”
If a church requires membership prior to me being accepted as a believer I will honor them by going elsewhere.
1st Corinthians 1:2; Galatians 1:2; Philippians 1:1; Colossians 1:2; 1st Thessalonians 1:1; 2nd Thessalonians 1:1-3; Titus 1:5 on appointing Elders in every town; Philemon 1:1,2; Revelation 1 through 3, each Church is in a specific location with its appointed elders. Hebrews 11:25 tells believers not to forsake the assembling of themselves together. None of these are Commandments for joining a church in order to please God. Rather, logic tells us that if we live in a locality, and there is a church in our locality, we should assemble ourselves together with them. This does not mean we have to put our names on the roll, but if the church in our locality has that as a rule to show our commitment in order for us to serve, we choose to do it the way they see fit out of love for the brethren, which is commanded often in the New Testament.
Other passages to consider are 1 Corinthians 12, Ephesians 4, Romans 12, 1 Peter 4:10,11 which speak of the gifts of the Spirit and how we are to use them to build up the body of Christ. Of course these are not specifically talking about the local Body of Christ, but if we live near enough to a local Body of Christ, that would be the logical place where our gifts could be used. Of course, they can be used on a larger scale as well, such as Bible teachers who have a radio or podcast presence.
1 Corinthians 11:26 says “as often as you do this”. Meeting together with the local church to take the Lord’s Supper was to be done often. Logically, if only one person shows up for the Lord’s Supper and no one else shows up, one could not call that a Gathering or an assembling of the Lord’s people. I have shown up to a prayer group before where no one else showed up. It’s discouraging. I can understand how churches began to seek written commitments from believers. The Bible does not mandate this, because we should all be committed to God, and we should all love the brethren. Unfortunately, there are too many believers who are not committed to God and who do not love the brethren. This is why I mentioned above that if the church in your locality requires you to join the church, The Godly thing to do is to join out of love for the brethren.
So much to consider. Could you summarize in 1 or 2 sentences?
Sorry. There were several pieces to the puzzle that needed to fit together.
1. The New Testament already had many local churches.
2. Paul commissioned Titus to appoint Elders at every town that had a church.
3. Believers were and are admonished to assemble in the churches, logically, in the churches in their locality.
4. Even though the Bible does not require that we put our names on a membership roll, it does require that we prefer one another in love. Therefore if the local church requires your name on a roll, then the loving thing to do is to comply.
5. The Holy Spirit gives each believer spiritual gifts to build one another up, which logically requires their getting together somehow.
6. Paul expected that believers would celebrate the Lord’s Supper together often, together in one place.
7. Churches that strayed from God’s plan had their lampstand removed. (Rev. 1-3)
Per point 4, if a local church required believers to give 80% of gross income for support and missions, would that also fall under the “preferring one another” principle?
Of course not. As I explained in my longer version, it’s very discouraging to be a leader and show up for a service and be the only one there. I offer that as a possible reason why churches may have started requiring written membership. I sense sarcasm in your question. perhaps I’m wrong, but I only answered because you said you wanted people to respond, and I believed that you really wanted to know.
I truly appreciate your willingness to discuss, and I covet your opinions.
When I read ” prefer one another” I think of preferring individual believers, not organizational structures, which is where I think you are applying that term.
No, I mean individual believers, though it’s true that some of them do get stuck on organizational structure.
I think it’s important that we not get stuck on the lack of it.
This is not something we should be clashing with our brothers and sisters about.
We can, with God’s help, show them honor without agreeing with all their stances on ways of running things.
The important thing is that we all seek first the reign of God in our lives. As we all get to know God better for who He is, we will better be able to walk in the Spirit and love one another better. We cannot truly love God if we do not love our brother. 1 John 4:20,21
Thanks for the additions. I’ll take a look. And thanks for your willingness to dialog – such interactions are sorely needed in the Body of Christ. I also appreciate that you will make a positive case next…
Thank you for examining this claim. Your arguments make sense. It appears that they are trying to make the scriptures say something other than what they actually say.
Appreciate your thoughts. Be blessed and stay safe.
It would be helpful to see the complete arguments that you are responding to. Can you provide a link to them?
Checked my email this morning, but all I found was the discussion with Cody that I have built the posts on.
Cody referred me to a pamphlet that was titled “Meaningful Membership in a Church” and I was able to find this webpage for you –
The document has been revised since Cody and I discussed this topic.
Hope this helps
Thanks. It is somewhat helpful, as it provides some document that holds the position that we should be “members” of a “church.” But this is not the actual document that you are refuting, so what would be most helpful would be to explicitly state (at the beginning of each post) the specific claim that you are refuting. For example, you could have a quote or a paraphrase of something that Cody said. Then I could assess what he claimed and could think about whether your response is a good refutation of his claim. This is a very interesting and important topic, and I appreciate you taking the time to think and write about it.
Updated the first seven posts of this topic with some minor clarifications (in red).
Hope it helps.
As Cody supplied 6 categories of study for this topic, the next posts is this series will try to build a positive approach to what church is and my understanding of the believers relationship to church. I don’t want to simply tear down a believers doctrine, without providing an alternative understanding, that may be truer to the intent of the New Testament.
I hope you will continue to interact, and as you see holes in my thinking or understanding, your input would be appreciated.
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